Documentary of the First Racially Integrated Rock - N - Roll Band in the United States
A historical account shared by John LaTorre of “Johnny La Torre & the Rhythm Rockets”
I would like to share my story of a great neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and how we lived in harmony as the first racially integrated rock-n-roll band almost 65 years ago.
Our neighborhood, on Eighth and Kater Street, just half block from South Street, was diversified with many nationalities. I am a first-generation American of Italian descent.
We came together, both American-Italian, and African-American without prejudice. We just wanted to have a good time and our music brought us together and as it turned out, I was the only white-Caucasian playing in our neighborhood band.
In 1943, I purchased my first guitar at Jack’s Pawnshop located at 8th and South Street. I put $10 down and continued with $0.50 per week til it was paid off. In 1946, we had a band called the “Bell Tones” and we played at many African-American cabaret parties.
As different events evolved the band then became, the “Polka Dots” and in 1954 was called, “Johnny La Torre and the Rhythm Rockets.” There are so many interesting stories about our band and our love of music during an era of racial diversity. I believe we were the first racially integrated rock 'n roll band the in United States.
The Story of Johnny La Torre & the Rhythm Rockets
America's First Integrated Rock - N - Roll Band
Johnny La Torre & the Rhythm Rockets: the first professional integrated rock 'n roll band in the United States.